tv Focus on Europe PBS January 27, 2018 6:00pm-6:31pm PST
♪ michelle: hello, and welcome to "fokus on europe." i'm michelle henery. glad that you could join us. the conflict in eastern ukraine has perhaps fallen off the international radar. but fighting flares up almost daily between government forces and pro-russian separatists. and it's the civilians who suffer most. some are trapped on the front lines, with no place to go. hundreds have been killed, and over a million displaced. and many of them are women and children. despite a series of ceasefires, the ukrainian region of donbass has witnessed fighting for almost four years now. residents are living and raising families on the front line of this war zone. while many have fled this once
coal-rich region, yekaterina shumyn is one of those who are either too old or too poor to escape. but staying means that she and her three children must face each day like it could be their last. reporter: the shutters on katya's home stay closed for good reason. she lives on the edge of the village of zhovanka -- next to the no-man's-land between ukrainian government troops and pro-russian separatists. shelling and mortar fire are a part of everyday life, as is sniper-fire from a nearby hill. it's been three years now since the conflict that has claimed the lives of 10,000 people brought the front line to the outskirts of zhovanka. katya is 27, and a single mother of three children. her youngest is just 18 months old. the children have no one else to play with. all the other families moved away some time ago. doesn't all the shooting scare you? yekaterina: not really.
you get used to recognizing what kind of weapon the shots are coming from. you know if it's worth taking cover or not. reporter: when it began, the family would hide in a cellar in the garden, katya tells us. since that, too, was hit, they just stay in the house. yekaterina: this is our living room. and it's where we sleep. on that side we're protected by the kitchen, and from the other side we very rarely get anything coming at us. this is where my mum sleeps, my daughter diana, and this is where i sleep with the two youngest. reporter: without help from outside, life in zhovanka would no longer be possible. the village is surrounded on several sides by separatist-held areas. a single road, vulnerable to sniper fire, connects the village with government-held territory. tatiana koshel and her
humanitarian relief team make the journey regularly -- bringing food, clothing and other essential supplies to those in need. when the fighting reached zhovanka three years ago, public transport broke down. the nearest supermarket is several hours' walk away, putting it out of reach for zhovanka's 140 mostly elderly residents. tatiana: the village is cut off -- the people here hardly get a chance to get out. this isn't life, it's survival. people here get by thanks to what they can grow in their gardens. reporter: there are hundreds of civilians in the area, dependent on the u.n. and local activists for their daily survival. we leave the village and head towards the front line. from this point on, all you see are ruins and trenches -- most of them barely deep enough to stand up in. we meet two ukrainian soldiers
on guard duty -- a father and son. >> of course i'm worried about him, but at least this way i get to see him every day. of course there's shooting here, but it's mainly at night. during the day it's quieter, but there's always something going on. reporter: close by, tatiana is bringing supplies to pensioner yelena bykhovaya. just a few months ago, a grad missile struck her house. she was at home when it happened. tatiana: this is where the missile hit -- it was a direct hit. reporter: but that wasn't all. yelena: another time i had shells land in the garden, directly under my windows. two others in my neighbor's front garden, they completely destroyed the sheds over there. on the other side of the road there were 11 hits. reporter: but yelena has no plans to leave.
she will spend the winter alone at home, with every night bringing the chance of further devastation. it's a familiar picture in zhovanka. katya shows us what's left of the vegetable cellar that she and her children used to hide in. yekaterina: i don't want my children to be scared. i tell them not to be afraid. when the shooting starts, i bring them inside and we play hide and seek. reporter: katya tells us that she plans to stay put, in spite of the constant danger. yekaterina: i'd leave right away if i had an apartment of my own to go to. but not if i end up as someone's guest, having to be grateful all the time. reporter: zhovanka is still an option, for now at least. thanks to helpers like tatiana and her team. but with no end to the conflict in sight, it's life on a knife edge for katya and her children.
michelle: our reporter was fortunate to be in the region during a lull in the fighting. shortly after his departure, three ukrainian soldiers died in battles nearby. the british voted to leave the eu, but where does that leave eu citizens in britain? before brexit, many thought -- we're all europeans with the right to live and move around the continent freely. but now, there is increasing evidence of an us-versus-them attitude, with mounting hostility in certain parts of the u.k. towards anyone not british -- particularly people from eastern europe. our reporter met a polish family in the seaside town of great yarmouth who have first-hand experience of how the mood has changed. reporter: these cameras aren't part of a home security system. they were installed to spy on a polish family across the road and are pointed right at the children's bedroom. dorota: you got cameras, can you
see how they -- there's another one, the black one next to the white. oh, there is one there. can you see it? reporter: what's happening here in great yarmouth, in eastern england, is more than just a feud between neighbors. the polish family are being targeted simply because they're eu citizens, says dorota darnell -- as the neighbor drives away in her car. darnell, from poland herself, is advising the victimized family. she came to britain to work in a bank. today, she's self-employed and helps her compatriots when they run into problems. the mother of the family, agneszka, doesn't want us to show her face, for fear of further repercussions. dorota: she's afraid of the fact that she's going to get recognized and -- it's a small town. if she goes out and people get to see her, then probably she's
going to have some aggravation. and she's got five kids, and she just wants to protect them and herself. reporter: dorota darnell started off helping polish citizens with their residency applications, after fighting her own way through the british bureaucratic jungle. but now she also accompanies them to the police station when they've been threatened simply for being foreigners. the video surveillance is yet another case of xenophobia. agneszka: she's done it to intimidate us, to show she's in control. she's installed all those cameras, whether they're recording or not. what matters is that she's intimidating us on social media and also in person. she screams out, "i can see you all the time." reporter: agneszka and her family have been living here for four years. their british neighbors moved in two years ago. the threats began with the brexit referendum in 2016. and they didn't just come from one neighbor. agneszka: i'd never had a
problem with doctors or at school. now the children get called names. we all know kids just repeat what they hear their parents say at home. i'm afraid to speak polish on the street, because we'll be told off. reporter: one police officer suggested she could just move away. in great yarmouth, more than 70% of voters were in favor of brexit. the seaside resort in norfolk is a bastion of anti-eu sentiment. a high proportion of staff in the bars and restaurants are eastern europeans from eu member states. many more work on the farms outside great yarmouth -- another reason for local resentment. >> i don't mind foreign workers coming here if they're trained people. but there's people coming in here that are untrained. they've got no licenses to do those jobs, but yet they're going to do them for less pay than people that have trained to go and do that job. we've got quite a lot in great yarmouth now. but i get along all right with them and they're fine with me.
so, you know, everyone for their own, eh? reporter: but it's not that simple. 200 kilometers away in birmingham, eu citizens are meeting to enjoy a cup of tea and discuss the headaches brexit has caused them. they belong to an organization called "the three million" -- named after the number of eu citizens living in the u.k. the group gathered today includes germans, french and poles. like kassia talbot. she married her british husband in poland, and moved with him to england. kassia: suddenly after brexit will i have to start to worry that, ok, the fact that i am european is not enough now, because i have to sort my paperwork to be able to stay here? reporter: kassia talbot collects her son from school. both of her children were born in britain. they live in a small community in the birmingham area -- a place known for its openness to immigrants from europe. but at the local fish and chip
shop, that tolerance seems to have vanished. gemma: they should leave. reporter: why? gemma: because that's why -- they'll moan about money problems and things like that. well, the more people here, the more people are getting in, the more money's going out. that's why. reporter: by "they" she primarily means immigrants from eastern europe. kassia talbot has now acquired british citizenship. she couldn't live with the uncertainty that she might be deported one day -- just because she's an eu citizen. although her husband james is a pastor and used the authority that comes with his office, he says the hours he spent on the phone were torture. james: unless you have that piece of paper, don't tell me it's going to be all right, because you're not living through it. you're not going through what we've had to go through. you're not feeling the pressure that we've had to go through. sorry. reporter: in great yarmouth, agneszka and her family are also feeling the pressure.
without dorota darnell's assistance, they'd be all on their own -- with the cameras and their xenophobic neighbor, who we tried to speak to. but although we hear noises inside the house, no one answers the door. michelle: while britain is heading out of the eu, most people in turkey still hope their country will join some day, though few believe it can be realized in the short term -- especially since the country has growing domestic issues. an average of five people a day are killed there by firearms. rising crime and political instability since the attempted coup in 2016 have caused many turks to arm themselves. gun ownership has soared to 25 million, which is one in three households. the vast majority of the weapons are unregistered, and many of those shot are innocent civilians.
reporter: nihat palantoken has barely set foot in his daughter's room since she was murdered four months ago. helin's desk, bed, and dressing table are all still there. she was preparing to go to college. nihat: i was looking forward to framing her university diploma and putting it up on the wall. but that will never happen now. reporter: last october, 17-year-old helin was murdered on her way home in istanbul. the culprit -- a male acquaintance who shot and killed her shortly after she had turned down his advances. incidents like these are becoming all too common in turkey. helin's father has called for stricter gun laws. nihat: i want to see at least the many illegal arms confiscated. that would save many lives,
because many of these firearms are owned by uneducated people who have a sick mentality. reporter: nihat doesn't need to long to find the spot where his daughter was killed -- it looks like a war zone. the culprit fired repeatedly on his daughter with a semi-automatic rifle. he was later apprehended. the man who illegally sold him the gun, however, was quickly released. nihat: i or anyone else could end up being shot soon, too. this has to stop. i don't want others having to live though what i have endured. i lost my child. enough. reporter: there are now fatal shootings on the streets of turkey every day. helin's former school friends were shocked by her death. but they know how easy it is to buy a gun these days.
>> it's simple. you order a firearm online, and it's delivered to your doorstep. incredible, really. reporter: it's illegal to buy arms online in turkey. but that does little to allay the concerns of girls and young women -- the most common victims of male gun crime. >> sure we're scared. every day, this street corner reminds us of the danger. reporter: there are an estimated 20 million illegal guns in turkey. every day, there are five gun-related fatalities -- murders, accidents, and suicides. private gun ownership rose by more than 20% last year. now, an initiative made up of citizen's groups and newspapers is speaking out. ayhan: it's become easier to get a gun license -- all you need is
a clean police record and medical clearance. also, crime and political volatility have increased in the past decade. and penalties for illegally owning a gun are negligible. reporter: we head over to the european side of istanbul. after some hesitation, a firearms dealer agrees to discuss the country's gun situation with us. inside his shop, he shows us a shotgun made to look like an assault rifle. he keeps his more serious firearms elsewhere. he doesn't think banning guns would save lives. instead, he says gun ownership should be legalized. fatih: they should make it easier to purchase a firearm legally. then the state would have control over gun ownership. and there would be fewer
fatalities. culprits could be quickly apprehended because every gun would be registered. reporter: the arms dealer regularly showcases his arsenal on youtube. he denies this constitutes illegal advertising. he claims he's merely targeting gun-lovers. nihat palantoken visits the family grave every day. helin, who was his eldest daughter, is buried here as well. she was one of 20,000 gun crime victims in 2017. nihat has vowed to do everything he can to combat turkey's obsession with guns -- in honor, he says, of his daughter. michelle: predappio is a sleepy, rural community in northern italy. but for a few days each year, thousands of visitors descend on its narrow streets with jack
boots and shaved heads, raising their right arms in a fascist salute. stores openly sell memorabilia bearing fascist symbols. the town is the birthplace of benito mussolini -- former dictator of italy, and adolf hitler's wartime ally. but critics now want to outlaw what they call the glorification of fascism -- nationwide. reporter: for most of the year, predappio is a quiet little town of 6000 people. but it's known nationwide as the birthplace of benito mussolini. there's even a museum dedicated to "il duce," a veritable treasure trove for those who feel more than a little sentimental about his rule over italy from 1922 to 1943. and three times a year, predappio hosts organized celebrations of the fascist leader -- marking the birthday of the town's most famous native son, the date of his death, and the anniversary of the fascist march on rome that swept mussolini into power.
a number of shops sell souvenirs for customers who fancy gracing their living rooms with not-so-subtle hints of fascism. the italian authorities do not step in to stop it. it's not just old men reveling in their youth who admire il duce. the facebook page "i giovani fascisti italiani," or "young italian fascists," has tens of thousands of "likes." it glorifies the fascist era while expressing contempt for italy's current politicians. and foreigners are absolutely not welcome. back in 1952, italy passed a law that criminalized efforts to glorify fascism. but a lot of people, it seems, have little regard for such a ban. member of parliament emanuele fiano has therefore submitted a new draft bill that tightens the law. stricter legislation against fascist activities is also a personal matter for the democratic party politician. his jewish family suffered great losses in mussolini's italy.
emanuele: i think my family's history has sensitized me in a special way, and more than other people. italian fascists arrested my relatives and turned them over to the german nazis. ten members of my family were gassed in auschwitz. reporter: if italy's senate follows the chamber of deputies and passes the new law, then giving the fascist salute in public -- as often seen in soccer stadiums -- will be punishable with prison sentences of up to two years. the same would apply for producing, marketing, or selling fascist memorabilia. and judges can increase the penalties by a third if an offender spreads fascist propaganda in the media or on the internet. the point of fiano's law becomes obvious on the big fascist
holidays in mussolini's hometown, predappio. events include a fascist mass held by a catholic priest. most of these people are united on two fronts -- ideologically, in their rejection of democracy, liberalism, and italy's current politics -- and also in their desire to stop the new anti-fascism law. >> the law that they're planning is garbage. it's wrong to ban history. for me, the ssolini era was italy's greatest since the roman empire. >> if this law is really passed, all hell will break loose. that's why i hope that it will pass. reporter: the 2017 anniversary of mussolini's march on rome runs itssual course -- neo-fascists celebrate their
ideology and themselves, with zero intervention on the part of the police. but this celebration in honor of il duce may be the last of its kind, if italy's parliament indeed passes the law -- something the mayor of predappio would welcome. giorgio: in italy, there is next to no critical examination of history, so a lot lives on in secret. and every once in awhile, it bursts onto the surface again. reporter: italy's parliament, in rome, could now write history in its own way. michelle: the final passing of the bill may yet take some time, however, because a government crisis means there will be new elections in march. we recently brought you a story about dutch university students living in old peoples' homes as a way of bridging the generational divide.
now the netherlands has seen the introduction of another method of social engineering to encourage friendships between young and old. but this time around, it's the older generation who are on the move. reporter: three pensioners setting out to liven up the streets of helmond -- with their brightly colored walkers-with-a-difference. the imaginative idea is, as planned, attracting a lot of attention from young people. the whole thing was dreamt up by rocco verdult, a self-styled "social designer." rocco: the goal is to provide young people with free wi-fi, so that they feel more comfortable here in helmond. and second, the project aims to motivate pensioners with a walker to go for a stroll in the center of town. reporter: marlies magermans reveals the secret gadgetry. this plastic box conceals a mobile wifi router.
the box is hidden in the baskets to keep it from being stolen. the project's name translates as "walking wi-fi." the password is "elke vrijdag," which means "every friday," because that's when the retired people make their rounds. >> this pedestrian mall is the only place with free wi-fi. >> otherwise we have to use the cell phone network, and it's expensive. wi-fi is way cooler. reporter: but once the kids are logged in, they often ignore the older people. chatting online with friends seems more interesting than an inter-generational conversation. so it's understandable that the project does have its critics. co it's nonsense. children used to play outdoors, pop into the bathtub in the evening, and head for school in the morning. then they'd run around outside
again, play soccer or climb over fences until the woman next-door scolded them. marlies: but we do still get noticed in town. and because we come every week, it's becoming a habit. and that can really mean something for our city of helmond. reporter: so far, this is still just a test project. the organizers will be evaluating the results after six weeks. but it might not be long until "wi-fi walkers" start showing up elsewhere, too. michelle: and hopefully those young people will start to engage a bit more, too. that's it from "fokus on europe" this week. if you want to see any of our reports again, just go to our homepage on dw.com. thank you for watching, and see you next time. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]